She enrolled for a degree in computer science after graduating school. During her second year, when she was 19, Madhurima decided to put her passion for coding to good use and help build software for local businesses. This was in 1999 in Ranchi, way before computers had caught on. Coming from a business family, setting up the firm was a breeze. Her father helped her bag her first project, and was also her first investor. As orders started, she hired three programmers, some her classmates from college. She even converted her office into a makeshift cyber cafe to deal with growing expenses.
Find people who believe in you more than you do. They are the ones who will lift you up when you’re in the doldrums
Madhurima Agarwal, director, engineering programmes, NetApp
In the next two years, as her business skyrocketed, her aspirations grew. She succeeded in getting into IIM Ahmedabad for an MBA. She sold her business and used the money to fund part of her education.
After graduating, however, Madhurima decided to embark on a career in investment banking. “The two years at IIM completely changed me. I realised there’s so much happening outside the world of tech, and that I shouldn’t limit myself,” she says. In 2003, she joined Roulac Global Places in Hyderabad and subsequently Goldman Sachs. “As I started getting used to a steady paycheck, my startup dreams seemed distant,” says Madhurima.
But in 2013, she did try to launch a venture. Unfortunately, it failed to take off. Over the next few years, she worked with startups, including CommonFloor. In 2017, she was back in the world of technology, with NetApp.
As the director for engineering programmes, she leads NetApp’s startup accelerator, and helps nurture innovation. “It’s an ideal role. It helps me combine my passion for technology and my experience as an entrepreneur to help others,” she says.
Madhurima, who won the Zinnov award this year for Next Generation Woman Leader, also leads a programme that focuses on women entrepreneurs. “Women entrepreneurs often struggle to be taken seriously. As someone who’s been there, I believe it’s my responsibility to help them,” she says.